What are tertiary aromas/flavors in wine?

A. Aromas and flavors that come at the end of a sip, right before you swallow or spit the wine

B. The three main aromas/flavors in any given glass of wine; these are the most important aromas and flavors to pay attention to

C. The aromas/flavors in a wineglass that hover in the airspace above the wine before the wine is swirled

D. Aromas/flavors that result from aging a wine


When analyzing wine, professionals often split aromas/flavors into three categories: primary, secondary, and tertiary. Primary aromas and flavors come from the grape itself or natural factors in the vineyard. Pinot noir, for example, often displays the primary aromas/flavors of red cherries, strawberries, and a certain earthiness. Secondary aromas and flavors come from winemaking. The smell and flavor of oak in chardonnay is a secondary aroma/flavor that results from fermentation or aging in oak barrels. Similarly, the aroma and flavor of bread dough in Champagne is a secondary aroma/flavor that results from long aging on lees. Tertiary aromas and flavors are those that come from time. After, say, ten years, a great cabernet sauvignon no longer smells or tastes simply of cassis or other primary aromas/flavors. It takes on almost impossible-to-describe aromas and flavors that result from molecules in wine coalescing over time into whole new compounds.

Get WineSpeed

Join tens of thousands of other wine lovers. Get each week’s edition of WineSpeed delivered to your inbox every Friday. It’s fast. It’s free. It’s the smartest way to stay up to speed on wine.
Email address
First Name
Last Name
Be sure to check your inbox to confim your subscription.